Ann Rolfes, founding director of environmental health and justice organization the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, told the Times-Picayune that “the ink was barely dry” on a record $4.5 billion BP settlement when there was an explosion and fire aboard Black Elk Energy’s West Delta Block 32 production platform in the Gulf of Mexico. “This accident is sad evidence of the obvious,” Rolfes told the Times-Picayune. “The oil industry is a rogue industry with an accident problem that it refuses to address.”
Just one day after BP agreed to plead guilty to felony charges associated with the deaths of 11 workers in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill as well as lying to Congress, one worker was killed, another was missing and 11 other workers were injured after an explosion on a rig owned by Houston-based Black Elk. Authorities said the blaze erupted on November 16, 2012, while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on the platform. The Times-Picayune reported that “some environmental groups worry that smaller companies like Black Elk may not be able to afford either the post-Deepwater Horizon safety requirements issued by the new federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Coast Guard, or the cost of clean-up of oil spills.”
On November 19, 2012, the Times-Picayune reported that the US Department of Labor issued a finding of a “serious violation” in 2008 and fined Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., the oil contractor that employed many of the workers onboard the Black Elk platform. According to the Time-Picayune, an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that two Grand Isle employees were killed in December 2007 after they inhaled poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas.
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